In my preview article before last night’s game, I didn’t give the Jazz much, if any, chance to even hang around with the L.A. Clippers. I don’t think a lot of people did. The Clippers were coming off 2 crushing road losses, were 12-2 at home on the season, had won 6 straight against the Jazz, and was in the top 5 in the NBA in scoring. The Jazz were coming off an emotional last second victory the night before over the Lakers and then had to jump on a plane and head to L.A. for a late start game the next night. I didn’t think this game would even be close.
However, halftime rolled around, and the Jazz looked up at the scoreboard to see that they had a 1 point lead. Not only that, the Clippers had tried to bring in their studs to put the Jazz away in the 2nd quarter, and the Jazz kept exchanging blows with them. Everytime the Clippers tried to put their foot on the gas, the Jazz came down with a bucket of their own to stay with them.
As much as they fought throughout the whole game, Blake Griffin was too much to handle for the Jazz tonight, finishing with 40 points. Chris Paul could be added along to that, scoring 23 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 9 assists. The Jazz, in all honesty, kind of handed the Clippers this game in the final minute.
With the game tied at 90 after Trey Burke hit 2 free throws, the Clippers went on an 8-0 run to close out the game. It was helped out by a poor shot selection and a turnover by Trey, and another turnover by Enes Kanter. Once the Clippers got up by 5, the Jazz didn’t have any answers to try and stop them.
Although the Jazz didn’t win the game, this might have been the best Jazz game that I have seen the team play all season.
The Jazz were able to get Blake Griffin into early foul trouble by drawing 2 fouls on him within the first 4 minutes of the game. With Griffin out, the Jazz took advantage with their small lineup. The Clippers had to adjust to what the Jazz were doing, which is usually not the case. With Griffin out, the Jazz took a 20-17 lead after the first quarter.
Defensively the Jazz looked really good for the most part. The Jazz took away the 3 point shot. Coming into the game, the Clippers were averaging 23 three point shots per game. Tonight, the Clippers only managed to take 14, and out of those 14, were only able to make 3. The 3 makes came in the second half.
I enjoyed seeing Enes Kanter play well. Kanter finished the game with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Also, during the final minutes of the game, Corbin decided to leave Kanter in to play alongside Favors to match up with the Clippers duo of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Kanter plays well when given minutes like he seen tonight, but for the majority of games, he hasn’t been given that opportunity.
The were going to let Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams try and beat them, and for the most part, they almost did. The two players have combined to score 19.2 points per game, but on Saturday night, the duo went and scored 30, both chipping in 15. It’s really good to see that Marvin has played well this season. I guess he really must have been hurt last season, because I was not very positive about him, but this season, being healthy, has made a world of difference.
Another impressive stat to me, was that Gordon Hayward finished with 9 points and 7 assists. Derrick Favors only had 4 points. It’s incredible to me that the Jazz were even in this game when arguably two of the best players on the Jazz team, can’t score the basketball. The Jazz got production from other players to try and carry the load. For most the game, this worked really well for them, but couldn’t come through late.
The thing that I heard on Twitter last night was, why not do the hack-a-shaq on DeAndre Jordan? Jordan is shooting 42.1% from the free throw line for his career. However, if you look at DeAndre Jordan the last two seasons against the Jazz, he has averaged 81.9% from the free throw line. I think it would have been worth a shot, but all I am saying is that Jordan for some reason enjoys making free throws against the Jazz.
This game proved that the Jazz really are good. The record may not indicate that, but I think if you just watched the way they played last night, you would see that they are better than a 9 win team. It’s incredible to me that the Jazz gave up a combined 61 points to Griffin and Paul, and the Jazz had 2 of their best players not scoring for them, and still had a chance to win the game. The Jazz have 9 of their next 13 at home where we should start seeing a few wins. It could be as early as Monday night, where the Jazz will play host to an old friend in Al Jefferson, as the Jazz take on the Bobcats.
Improvement is what we want to see out of this team this season. Improvement is exactly what we got last night. If it is at all possible to say, the loss last night to the Clippers, might have been the most impressive loss that we have seen this season.